MOSCOW: Croatia have sent striker Nikola Kalinic home from the World Cup after the AC Milan striker refused to come on as a substitute during Saturday 2-0 Group D win over Nigeria.

Manager Zlatko Dalic saying the ex-Blackburn forward blamed a back problem for not wanting to play.

Dalic added: “During the Nigeria encounter, Kalinic was warming up and was supposed to come on in the second half.

“However, he then stated that he wasn’t ready to come on due to a back issue. The same thing happened during the Brazil friendly in England, as well as before the practice session on Sunday.

“I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision.”

Kalinic has 41 caps and 15 goals for his country and joined AC Milan, on loan with an obligation to buy, from Fiorentina last summer.